Tensions rise as Zanu PF heads to crucial party conference

TENSION is simmering in Zanu PF ahead of the ruling party’s annual conference scheduled for Masvingo next week, amid reports that plots and counter plots are underway as feuding factions prepare to meet after a gruelling year of internal strife.

By Elias Mambo/Wongai Zhangazha

Sources say both factions in Zanu PF, namely G40 which consists of young Turks who have coalesced around First Lady Grace Mugabe and Lacoste which is aligned to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, are lobbying their supporters across the provinces not to be intimidated and attend the conference in their numbers.

“Both factions have members on the ground meeting their supporters so that they can be accredited for next week’s jamboree,” the source said.

“Zanu PF members have been holding late-night meetings in preparations for the forthcoming annual meeting,” the source said, adding: “This has been characteristic of all Zanu PF conferences where plots and counter plot take centre stage.”

The plots also come at a time G40 is pushing for the scrapping of the “one centre of power” which gave President Robert Mugabe the sole responsibility to appoint his deputies as well as members of the politburo.

This comes amid indications the plot to amend the party’s constitution was being pushed by G40 and could have been masterminded by Mugabe in his Machiavellian manoeuvres designed to re-align his succession process and re-assert control over his fractious organisation.

To members of G40, attempts to throw out the “one centre of power” provision is considered a new strategy to oust Mnangagwa who is regarded by some as a frontrunner in the race to succeed Mugabe.

In a move that has set the cat among the pigeons, Zanu PF’s Mashonaland Central province challenged the ruling party’s “one centre of power” principle which empowers Mugabe to appoint his deputies and politburo members.

During its inter-district meeting in preparation for this month’s annual conference, the province resolved that the much-touted “one centre of power” principle — ushered in through an amendment to the party constitution in 2014 — should be adjusted to allow members to elect the vice-presidents.

However, the proposal has met stiff resistance from Zanu PF provinces across the country, particularly Mnangagwa’s supporters.

As preparations for the annual conference being held at a total cost of US$4 million gathers momentum, central committee members and legislators have been forced to contribute 400 kilogrammes of meat each.

Zanu PF’s 16th national annual people’s conference will run from December 13-17 under the theme “Moving with Zim-Asset in Peace and Unity”.

According to sources, some central committee members in the province received phone calls from Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa ordering them to contribute 400 kgs of meat as well as bags of mealie-meal and millet.

Sources said Mahofa gave the central committee members until December 10 to submit their contributions. This is contrary to Mahofa’s remarks last week where she expressed enthusiasm over preparations for the party indaba.

According to sources, state enterprises, depending on their financial state, were indirectly forced to contribute to the dinner dance held in Harare last month with each table ranging from US$10 000 to US$100 000.

Ministries with revenue-collecting parastatals such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Zimbabwe National Roads Administration are as usual expected to take the tables with the highest price tags.

Last weekend, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko pressured companies in Bulawayo to contribute to the conference saying they were beneficiaries of the party’s policies. – ZimInd

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